Clemson's Shaq Lawson is well aware of ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr.'s latest mock draft projection, which has him going 17th overall to the Atlanta Falcons -- and not because Lawson surfed the internet to find it.
"My family from (Albany) Georgia was posting it on my social media," Lawson said. "I don't really pay attention to that stuff right now, but they were just saying it would be for me to come down to the 'A' to play. And I just said, 'Yeah, it would be great.'"
For more than one reason.
Not only would it be meaningful to become one of the top players selected in this year's NFL draft, period, but ending up in Atlanta might be the ideal scenario for a guy who lined up next to a couple of Falcons -- defensive end Vic Beasley and defensive tackle Grady Jarrett -- during the 2014 season.
"It would be special to play with those guys again," Lawson said. "They were two leaders that we had at Clemson. And it would feel like playing on the defensive line at Clemson again, so it would be great playing with those guys."
First and foremost, Lawson has to handle his business prior to the draft. The 6-foot-3-inch, 270-pound powerhouse led the nation with 25.5 tackles for loss last season to go with 12.5 sacks. The next phase for him is impressing NFL teams at this year's NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis starting this week.
Lawson, who was last seen braving through a MCL sprain in his left knee during Clemson's national title loss to Alabama, will go through all testing at the combine. His vertical should be interesting to monitor considering he was a big dunker as a South Carolina prep, when he was recruited to play at Virginia Commonwealth.
"I just want to be able to show teams my athleticism and that I can play all positions -- play anything they want me to play," Lawson said. "I just want to show them how athletic I am.
"I feel more comfortable playing defensive end (in a 4-3 scheme) because I've been playing it all my life, but I wouldn't have a problem playing inside, because I've played that, too. I just grew up playing end."
Lawson is confident in every aspect of his game, but particularly his pass rush. The Falcons sorely need pass-rush help after finishing last in the league with just 19 sacks last season.
"I feel like I'm one of the best in this draft class as far as pass-rushing," Lawson said. "I have different moves. People think I'm more of a power rusher, but I have a lot more. I've got a spin move, and that's something I learned from Vic (Beasley). I saw him do it in a game against Georgia and I was like, 'Man, I'm about to start trying that.' And it started working."
Lawson has leaned on Beasley and Jarrett for advice on how to prepare for the draft. Beasley was the eighth-overall selection last year after posting big numbers at the combine, and Jarrett didn't go as high as anticipated and became a fifth-round steal.
"They just gave me the advice to stay focused and enjoy the moment," Lawson said. "They know what the combine is like and the whole process is like that I'm going through now, because they've been through it. ... They've helped me out a lot."
Lawson helped himself plenty by being a disruptive force on the field last season.